Tuesday, February 12, 2008

They're Going To Stop Checking Background On Immigrants

Homeland Security easing immigrant background checks
Marisa Taylor McClatchy Newspapers Monday February 11, 2008
In a major policy shift aimed at reducing a ballooning immigration backlog, the Department of Homeland Security is preparing to grant permanent residency to tens of thousands of applicants before the FBI completes a required background check.
Those eligible are immigrants whose fingerprints have cleared the FBI database of criminal convictions and arrests, but whose names have not yet cleared the FBI's criminal or intelligence files after six months of waiting.
The immigrants who are granted permanent status, more commonly known as getting their green cards, will be expected eventually to clear the FBI's name check. If they don't, their legal status will be revoked and they'll be deported.
The decision to issue green cards demonstrates how federal agencies are struggling to keep up with surging immigration applications while applying stringent post-Sept. 11th background checks.
About 150,000 green card and naturalization applicants have been delayed by the FBI name check, with 30,000 held up more than three years.
(Article continues below)
DHS officials are determining exactly how many are affected, but confirmed that tens of thousands of people could be eligible for the expedited procedure. The new policy was outlined in an internal memo obtained by McClatchy Newspapers. Officials said the policy will be posted this week on the department's website.
Attorneys who represent immigrants applauded the new policy and predicted green cards would be issued faster.
However, advocates of stricter immigration enforcement accused DHS of creating security loopholes, rather than solving the backlog problem.
"It's a decision driven by the bureaucratic imperative to move the line along rather than addressing national security concerns," said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "It defies the imagination that you can require a security check only to decide that you're going to ignore it."

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